Paekākāriki — Unique, as Portrayed By Michael O’Leary And Many Others

Paekākāriki poet and writer Michael O’Leary continues to celebrate his home patch.

“Paekakariki- a celebration” is O’Leary’s sixth book about the town and the Kapiti district.

But while his earlier books cover a general history of the town, the railway station, the streets
and the history of transport in Kapiti -the 2024 publication is a more personal look.

Dennis Rose

And it’s not just O’Leary’s work- one chapter comes from local man Dennis Rose detailing
two years work to establish that local Kapiti landmark Mount Wainui. It is also Pouawha.

That’s significant in a wider history of the Hutt Valley fighting of 1846- which ended at
Pouawha in the year which saw Governor Grey take Te Rauparaha prisoner.

Te Rauparaha died soon after but remains the most famous single person associated with
Paekakariki and Kapiti.

No surprise however that other sections of the book include short profiles of leading
Paekakariki writers, Dennis Glover, James K. Baxter, J. C Sturm and current writers Rob
Hack and Apirana Taylor. World-class dancer (sir) Jon Trimmer is also there.

Ordinary life also gets mentioned with lists of names including a description of Paekakariki
from 1953 from Ruth Sanderson, daughter of the founder of the Forest and Bird Protection
Society, Paekakariki resident Val Sanderson.

Movies in Paekakariki get a whole chapter and some of it is like the Keystone Cops.
No spoiler alerts here but getting the reels from Seatoun to Paekakariki meant going to
Pauatahanui then over the hill road. They could be late. And when the intermission arrived it
wasn’t jaffas being rolled down the hill but aniseed balls.

The glory days of the movies were in the 1940s Paekakariki with its Americans was the only place in New Zealand which
played two national anthems- God Save the King obviously but not the Star Spangled Banner.

You will need to read it to find out what was actually played.
The glory days of Paekakariki pictures were gone by about 1970- because of television and
ten o’clock closing. Local pubs old and new also feature.

The final chapter is a series of poems about Paekakariki by Michael O’Leary

The book is available at the Paekakariki station museum. It’s published by the Paekakariki
Station Precinct Trust.

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